In the previous blog post about dual sport riding technique, we talked about the Pros or reasons to opt for standing position in off road riding. The point of this 2nd part of the article is to remind riders that, just because the terrain you're on isn't paved, that doesn't mean you need to be standing up on your motorcycle. (Some riders draw an automatic connection between the two, thinking that: Dirt = Standing.) While there are plenty of good reasons to ride standing sometimes, of course there are "Cons" to standing as well that we're about to address for you:
Why NOT to Stand
- You Can Lose Balance thru Neutrality - Previously we mentioned Balance and Neutrality as being one of the "Pros" for the standing position, right? There's a flipside to this though when you have a slip or make a mistake and your body position gets out-of-sync with what the motorcycle is doing. For example, what happens if you hit an unseen rock that's down in a deep puddle while in the standing position? The bike might slow down dramatically, but your unattached weight will tend to go forward, over the handlebars (if extreme enough.) Had you been sitting, the effect of slowing rapidly down might not have been so severe. By getting knocked off to the left or right and for a variety of reasons, standing while dual sport riding can also lead to losing control of the bike.
- Handlebar Leverage - Try standing on your bike and then sitting, working the handlebars back and forth in each position. Notice the difference? While good riding technique typically won't require much strength or force on the handlebars, a stable control of them is preferred, and control is definitely better when seated. Obviously, having the best control possible could make be the difference when accidentally hitting obstacles or needing to make a move!
- Hand & Foot Controls - Much the same as with the handlebars, your control over the clutch, gearshift, front and rear brakes will probably not be as easy or precise when standing. Shifting can be done standing up, but it involves a bit more effort for most of us than when sitting. The rear brake especially is more difficult to apply proper pressure to, which is of particular interest because much of your dirt and sand dual sport riding should be done with a rear brake only. You don't even need to be riding to test this out, so go ahead and try.
- Delayed Stopping - IF by chance an animal, car, or something else were to suddenly appear in front of you while riding standing up, guess what? You pretty much need to sit down before you can really slam on the brakes. Try braking hard enough while standing, and you'll flip right over the handlebars. So of course you need to sit down first, which might only take a fraction of a second...but that fraction of a second might make the difference of stopping safely vs. crashing. Enough said.
- Jumping Off - We talked about this in the list of "Pros," too. If an animal, car or some other obstruction suddenly enters your path of motorcycle travel, jumping clear off the bike might be the safest thing to do. Quite the opposite of the "stopping" issue in the point above, jumping off the bike requires that you squat down to a near sitting position first. (Think about it: You can't jump without first bending your legs, right?) So again, if you're already in a standing position, jumping off might require an extra fraction of a second.
- Tapping Your Feet - In dual sport riding through sand, mud, and dirt, everyone has the occasional "slip" and need to help the weight of the bike get back up to where it should be. While this correction can often be made with just the handlebars and pressure on the foot pegs, sometimes tapping a foot on the ground can make all the difference (of course that can only be done under certain speeds.) Again, picture yourself standing on the bike and needing to tap your foot down in a split second to correct a slip out. Can't reach the ground, right? Alas, the seated position has its place in dual sport riding.
You can read the "Pros" for the standing position on this link, and we sincerely hope that the combination of these two blog posts helps you decide between the sitting and standing position for your riding technique. In dual sport riding, we constantly need to evaluate riding situations and determine what are the best speeds, lines, and riding positions to be in, so please don't think there's one simple answer to all of the above. Maybe take a moment to memorize the Pros and Cons outlines in these 2 blog posts, and instead of just automatically standing when you get to a dirt, sand, or mud section, remain seated and see how it turns out.
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